Thursday, June 18, 2009

One Heck Of A Juken Experience

Short talk: I went out to do my weekly groceries yesterday evening and stopped by a shop to get some stuff on my way back. Just when I was gonna pay at the cashier, one middle-aged Japanese lady came to me and told me that a crow was having a party with my stuff I left inside my bicycle's basket. I said, "Crap!!" and quickly rushed out and saw a super huge, black crow was rummaging through my vegetable inside the plastic bag =.=
That stupid crow flew away just before I reached my bicycle and I thought problem is settled. So, I went inside to pay for my stuff only to come out again to see that damn stupid crow had pecked a few tiny holes on my cabbage with its beak. Stupid, stupid crow!! I will never ever love crow again. If I were to see it again, surely I will make grill it kao kao!! When I told Michelle about it, she told me not to eat those vegetables anymore; otherwise I might get infected with bird flu haha.
"tall guys ARE fated to enter Chiba U"

Randy, senior in NUTS

Loke Eng was the tallest in his batch, Teck Soon followed his footsteps and now it's my turn.
I update my blog quite often that I think some people might have wondered what had happened to me for the past ten days. Well, a lot happened within that period of time in which I will pen them down in this entry. That tells you that this is gonna be quite a lengthy entry and if you are still having your exams, I advise you to come back some other time lol. If you decide to read on, it's better you get a cup of drinks and some snacks first.
Just in case you haven't got the news, I sat for my entrance exam at Chiba University through recommendation selection and got the news that I passed the exam two days ago. I'll just give a brief explanation on how the system works here. Upon finishing our two-year language course in Malaysia, we undergo a three-year study at the technical colleges (also known as kosen), equivalent to polytechnics in Malaysia which are scattered all around Japan. We enter the kosen as a third grade student and graduate when we are in the fifth grade but the catch is, only as a diploma holder. Sad right, five years of study only gives you a diploma qualification. So to make it a less sad and a happier story, we would sit for university entrance exam as transfer students at any universities of our choice and will be admitted as a third year undergraduate student if we pass the exam.
Basically, there are two methods for this entrance exam - recommendation and achievement (written) selection. Recommendations will be given if we get good grades at kosen and we will usually need to attend an interview at the universities and selection are based on the result of the interview, kosen grades, and recommendation letter, etc. As for the achievement selection method, kosen grades usually don't have much bearing on the selection, because we would be required to sit for various written test like Maths, Physics, English, Japanese Language, major subjects, short interviews and they vary according to universities. The main concern is that we have to pay 30,000 yen (RM 1,000) per university and the amount is standard for all universities. Besides, most of the datelines for applications usually are early, so we got to plan and decide on which university to take and most of the time, we would pick at least two universities - one as our first choice and another one as a back-up.
The recommendation letter and the rest of the documents I sent to the university.
I chose the former method, mainly because I just couldn't bear months of stress and pressure preparing for the written test. Honestly, the main reason I chose Chiba Uni is because I have been wanting to enter a university which is within the Kanto region. Chiba is just one hour away from Tokyo and Narita International Airport. Plus, apparently Disneyland and Disneysea are quite near from Chiba too; so I might get a season pass and visit them every weekends haha. Besides, three years studying in a small city like Nagaoka is enough for me and I'm looking to try to live in a different environment. Hopefully those lecturers who interviewed me that day don't read my blog of I will be finished because I told them some other reasons when they asked me why I choose Chiba Uni haha.
I was pretty confident of passing this interview and started preparing for it several weeks before the interview day. I referred to Andrew, a senior of mine to get some tips and advices about what the interviewers usually look for, and also a couple of practise sessions with my Japanese language lecturer, Matsuda sensei. A few days before the interview, I practised it with Kok Hong through Skype to get a better and real feeling of being interviewed by someone. It is always important to make eye-contact with the interviewer no matter what kind of interview it is, and that was the part which I found it most difficult - making myself sound as natural as possible and not as if I'm memorising a pre-written text. However, when he is not around, I found a different method to practise on that - by drawing up a face on a paper and stick it in front of my Macbook.
Sorry-lah, I memang dunno how to draw human's face one haha.
This is what I did the night before my interview. Yea, really stupid I know; so laugh all you want.
I didn't practise with my friends here because seeing their face will surely make me laugh one. That's why I chose to practise with paper-face drawing instead lol. My class finished by noon on Friday, and the interview was on Saturday morning, which means I didn't have to skip any lectures. My stuff were already packed the night before and I spent some time Skyping with Michelle before I leave for Tokyo that Friday evening. Just after I left my hostel, I realised that I'd left my iPod behind, only to find out that its battery was dead already when I returned to my room to take it. Crab! I totally forgot to recharge it the previous night and I know I won't have something to accompany me during the journey down to Tokyo. However, my mood was still at the best condition at that time and I was really looking forward to the interview the next morning, pretty confident that I would do well for all the preparations I have done.
The shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Nagaoka to Ueno in Tokyo was under two hours and I went to get my telephone cards first in Shinokubo before taking another train line to Chiba. Bao Cong won't be reaching so fast, so I took the normal line instead of the rapid one to kill some time haha. In fact, I even wandered around one of the stops and grabbed some cream cakes to fill my empty stomach. It was my first time to Chiba and the fact that it was raining did give me that slight worry that I might lost my way. Then, something happened which I think it was more embarrassing than a funny incident.
The moment I exited the ticket collecting machine, I saw someone familiar - Wye Marn, my senior. At that time, it didn't hit my mind that he wasn't from Chiba; so I walked towards his direction and asked him, "Hey, so you waited long already arh?". That guy gave me a weird stare, shook his head and waved me away, while saying, "Iie, iie, iie". Only that moment that I realised I had recognised the wrong person and I felt so embarrassed that I didn't know where should I hide my face haha. I quickly apologised and walked away. A while later, a girl went to him and he told the girl about me, and I tried my best to hide my face from both of them. Super embarrassing lor haha!
James, my senior and Bao Cong arrived shortly after wards at the entrance to Inage station. We had a simple dinner at Saizeria, an Italian restaurant and was brought back to James hostel. The room was really small; the best part was the toilet-cum-bathroom; it was something like a 1.5 m x 1.5 m space and we have to bathe and shit within that small space. Guys, this, is, Japan.
Taking shinkansen in Japan is not cheap at all.


However, you get for what you've paid. A ride in shinkansen is much more comfortable than taking a flight. No much noise and it gives you a smooth ride.
Teck Soon, another senior of ours came back and we chatted for more than hour at the tv room. The interesting thing is that instead of discussing about the interview the next day, we talked more about how are the lectures and the university like, what subjects are taught, what is the standard of living in Chiba, etc, as if we already passed our interview haha. We didn't stay at their place because like I've mention, it's just too small to fit the two of us. So, we walked to the house of another senior of us, Loke Eng who has Kit How as his neighbour. By the way, Kit How came from Nagaoka Kosen too. It was already midnight and to make sure that we would be at our best condition and fresh for our interview the next day, we went to bed early (P/S to Loke Eng: Thanks for accommodating the two of us).
It was drizzling the next morning but I didn't know that it was a sign to signal to us of what to expect later that morning. Both of us got ready with our suit in place and walked to the uni with an umbrella each. James and Teck Soon tagged along as well and helped us to locate the interview place. We reached our respective blocks (different place because Bao Cong and I took different course) just in time and we straight away walked into the waiting room. I saw one of my classmates was there already but the rest were unknown students from other kosens I suppose. I was the only international students there.
A total unrelated picture of me camwhoring inside the shinkansen haha.
The invigilator gave us a briefing and I found out that there were eight candidate for my course, me being the seventh one. The duration for the interview would be about fifteen minutes per person and from some simple calculations, I would have to wait for ninety minutes before it's my turn. Ninety minutes inside the waiting room felt like forever. Why? Because all the Japanese kids sat there in formal sitting postures, looking straight in front the whole time with minimal movements; in other words, just like robots. I was like "Woah, sure or not must be like that?". It actually didn't surprised me much because all of them have that nerd faces, so it is comprehensible. Haha, not that I'm saying that having a nerd face is a bad thing because I was told to having that trait once upon a time. Neither that I'm bad-mouthing them, but I just mention it as a matter of fact.

Anyway, I didn't let that bother me too much because I was just concentrating on what would happen inside the interview room when my turn arrives. Weirdly, I didn't felt as nervous as I'd expected and finally, my James Bond number was called upon. I'm not sure about other universities but here, they required us to take in all our stuff into the interview's room because they don't allow you to return to the waiting room anymore once your interview is done. So, I guess it is advisable to take minimal stuff when you are going for an interview test.
For my case, the interview was conducted in a spacious lecture room. When I stepped into the room, and I immediately sensed something was not right. No less than six interviewers sat there looking towards my direction. Well, maybe they were surprised with my height, but that's not the main point. Usually, there are only three interviewers and I wondered why the heck they needed so many of them there. I almost screwed up everything even at the beginning when I was asked for my name and candidate number. Nervousness just caught me at the wrong time, I guess. Luckily, I remained composed and took a seat after introducing myself. The interview started with a few questions I have expected and well-prepared for;
  • "Why do you choose Chiba University?" (志望動機)
  • "Did you take a look at the university's website before this, and are there any research lab you are interested in entering?" (本校のサイト)
  • "What is you current graduation research theme?" (卒研内容)
  • "Are you sitting for any other entrance exams at other universities?" (複数受験所)
Yes, just those four questions, though I expected them to ask more. Once they were done with that, they said the interview will proceed with several questions which are related to our major subjects and that was the moment I said to myself, "This is not good at all. I'm doomed for sure". From the application guidebook, it was written there that there would only be interview for this recommendation selection test. So, I prepared myself for interview only and I didn't expect that they would be asking questions related to our studies. Usually, if there is such thing during the interview, they would write them down inside the guidebook that the interview also includes 口頭試問 or "oral test".
I felt it's unfair for us because they didn't provide us with the correct information. If they put that down in the guidebook, I have no rights to complain because I would have prepared for that oral test too; but the problem is, they didn't. Without any choice, I just let them shoot me with questions after questions because I can't just walk out from the interview room, or tell them they are not following the guidelines given, can I? Even my lecturer felt that the university shouldn't let such thing to happen. In the end, I guess I barely managed to answer only half of them because we studied most of those topics last year. With the tension and nervousness inside the interview room and having six or seven lecturers staring at you, waiting for you to answer their questions, it surely would make any questions much harder that you would thought. The tension was so high that I guess if they ask you a simple question of "2 x 3 = ?", you might give them "5" as your answer.
There were three major subjects I was asked, Material Mechanics (材料力学), Fluid Dynamics (流体力学) and Thermodynamics (熱力学). Just for reference purposes for those who have not sat for the interview, here are some of the questions I was asked;
Material Mechanics (材料力学)
  • 慣性モーメントを簡単に説明しなさい。
  • 固有振動数とは何か。
  • 応力分布を描きなさい。(単純支持梁が両端にモーメントMを受けている場合。この時、梁を下向き凸に変形する)
  • 一般化応力拡大定数Kを歪繪ε, 半径r, 角度θで表しなさい。(卒業研究内容)
Fluid Dynamics (流体力学)
  • 流線とは何か。
  • パスカルの原理を説明しなさい。
Thermodynamics (熱力学)
  • 熱力学第一法則を簡単に説明しなさい。
  • 熱力学第二法則を簡単に説明しなさい。
  • p−V線図を説明しなさい。
  • 逆変換とは何か。
My first question was to explain about moment of inertia, but I drew a diagram which explained about inertia instead. One of the of interviewer straight away told me what I drew on the blackboard was different and not what they wanted. That made me started to panic already even on my very first question. What a great start it was, huh? It remained almost the same for the rest of the ten minutes. Some topics of the questions were not taught yet, so I told them that, thinking that by saying like that, it would be the end. Too bad it wasn't the case. They proceeded with the next question and I saw they have a whole list of questions to make sure they don't run out of questions. So, there is no way for me to tell them that every questions they asked haven't been taught yet in my kosen, isn't it?
As for the remaining questions, they were either questions that I managed to answer them (correct or not is another thing) or questions which I couldn't recall at that time, so I just told them honestly that I couldn't answer them because of lack of study. Not waiting to create an bad image to the interviewers that I have forgotten most stuff I have studied, I tried to manipulate things a little bit by telling them that I have not studies those topics yet. I did that for one or two questions, I think. I know I'm cheating indirectly, but I was just trying to save myself from an already bad situation.
Just when I thought that the interview would continue with a few more questions unrelated to studies, the head of interviewer told me that the interview had ended. I wasn't even given enough opportunity to convince them on why they should select me and they told me that was the end. It was really disappointing and the moment I walked out from the room, I just felt like releasing everything out. My mood took an 180-degree turn from how it was fifteen minute earlier. I was so down at that time. I met up with Bao Cong and the two seniors and I found out that he went through the same thing too. It's just that Bao Cong didn't look as down as me, maybe because he did much better than me during the oral question session. Mine was just a total screwed one.
It was a Friday evening and the crowd at Shinjuku station was crazy.
We walked to a Chinese restaurant to have ramen for lunch and returned to Loke Eng's house to take some rest. He later took out to walk around Chiba city since I have never been there before. But, my mind wasn't on having a look at the city anymore because I was just thinking about going back as soon as possible after what had happened. It wasn't just about how badly my interview went because the night before that, Michelle and I had some misunderstanding on the phone and on the next morning before I went for my interview, I received a message from my sister saying that my mom was admitted to the hospital. I knew she was sick for a week already and just when I was told that she was getting better, I got that news. It just couldn't get any worse than that, could it?
I tried to keep myself strong, tried to make myself to believe that it's just one of those bad patch when everything just seem to go wrong. But they were too much for me to digest. I cancelled my plan to stay for another day in Tokyo and decided to return to Nagaoka on that night. Anyway, since Ben, another senior of mine had asked me out, I decided to have a dinner with him at a Thai restaurant several minutes walk from Tokyo station (P/S to Ben: Thanks for the meal).
Forked out another 7,300 yen (RM 210) for my journey back.
After the meal, I took the shinkansen back to Nagaoka and reached my dormitory by midnight. At that time, I was only told that my mom was admitted to the hospital without given a clear idea what was wrong with her. So, it's just a natural instinct for me to worry about her, right? And how my interview went so badly didn't help me at all. I couldn't think of the last time I faced such a difficult time that I felt so down for the next couple of days. Anyway, I think it was early this year when Michelle sent me off at Changi Airport and both of us were so emotionally depressed for the whole week that followed. I didn't even have the mood to online, except checking on my e-mails. That is why my blog was left abandoned for such a long period. So, if I ignored anyone's message during those times, I'm sorry. I just didn't have the mood to talk during those time.
After a few days, and from the kind and kurupulek words from a few people (you know who you are), I finally come to realise that there is nothing much I can do but to wait for the results to be announced. I can only rely on one thing - lady luck. A lot of them, in fact. Several days passed and my mom was discharged from the hospital and she was recovering. She told me that she knew about how my interview went and I was surprised how she found that out. A few days earlier, when her condition was quite bad, I told her that it went smoothly because I didn't want her to worry which will surely affect her recovery. Yet, she found out the truth.
Realising that my chances of passing have been reduced by 9637455 times, I started to prepare for the worse by studying for the written test. In fact, I have thoughts that I might have to go back Malaysia with only a diploma because the deadline of applications for the written test for most universities have passed; the remaining universities are like Tokyo University and Kyoto University, universities which the level is way too high compared to the time I had left to prepare to sit for their writing tests. Even for other universities like Chiba University and University of Electro-Communications, I felt that time was against me already to sit for their writing test and I had minimal confidence I would pass them. I only applied for this university because I was confident I would pass it. A naive decision I know, in which the future juniors shouldn't be doing or you would be risking your future.
I always believe in my sixth sense and my instinct usually prove me correct. I just felt that somehow, I will pass my interview. The day finally arrived and again, it was a bit unusual because I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. I was waiting for the news from my seniors who would be checking the results at the notice board of the faculty at noon, although I know there is a possibility that I failed it. I stayed optimistic and one hour passed and James still didn't reply my message.
So, I tried asking Teck Soon instead. Finally, he sent me a picture he took on the candidates who have passed. Too bad my inbox was full that time that I couldn't view it on my phone, which only doubled my anxiety. He called me but I was having my CAD lecture then. I rejected his call twice before going out to call him back and he told me probably he saw my number. Probably, haha. I was half-celebrating already but just to confirm everything, I deleted all unneccesary message in my inbox to see for myself my candidate number they put up. You know, you will never be satisfied until you see your number with your own eyes. Finally, after deleting some messages, I managed to view the photo he sent me.
My eyes scroll down through the numbers and my number was there - TDH 1007.
James took this using his mobile phone, in which he sent it to me right after the result was out.
It was such a relief at that moment, and it felt like a huge burden had been taken off from my shoulder. I was chatting with Michelle at that time and I informed her the moment the result was confirmed. Now I regret for not trying to be cheeky by bluffing her and see how would she react and console me. Haha, so bad of me and if I were to do that for her to find that out later, she's so gonna kill me lol.
It so happened that we were given a break during the CAD class and I called back home to inform my mom about the good news.
Picture 2.png
An e-card I got from me second aunt.
Kondo sensei, my class-cum-research lab lecturer had told me earlier to inform him when I get my results. Even if he is not in his room, he asked my to write him a small note that I have passed with my name at the bottom and paste it on his door. However, he was in his room when I went to see him and when I told him, he clapped his hands and kept repeating the word "Yokatta! Yokatta!" haha.
But soon afterwards, he told me that I have to start working on my graduation research already because I haven't do a single thing till today yet; all I did so far is skipping the periods designed for doing those research lol. Maybe that was the reason he was so happy to hear that I'd passed because I can start working on his research already.
Muazam treated me a kaya pau he made himself after knowing I passed my exam.
Before the result was out, I had a chat with another lecturer of mine who was one of the interviewer for the entrance exam to the advanced course in my kosen. He told me I should be okay because their decision would not be solely based on how we fared in the interview only. Our results at kosen, the recommendation letter and other documents still have quite some bearing to the final decision and I guess he was right. Personally, I guess my results during my kosen time had covered the marks I lost during my interview. And the fact that me being the sole international students might have given me some advantage.
Of so many people in my family, only my second aunt didn't make fun of the name Chiba because she is a Geography teacher and she knows that Chiba is city in Japan. My youngest aunt warned me to say the name C-H-I-B-A slowly when I'm talking to my grandma, ortherwise she might think that I'm scolding her with vulgar words haha. Imagine me telling her, "Mah mah, I get to enter Chiba already!!" haha (pun unintended).
This afternoon, I received a registered letter.
It was from the Engineering faculty of Chiba University.
It's the letter I have been waiting for since the past two days. It was a letter to confirm that I had passed the entrance exam, some guidelines on what should I do, and also a letter of agreement that I will accept the offer to enter the university. Now I'm considering whether or not I wanna accept their offer. Now people had passed already, so trying to jual mahal a litte bit-lah kononnya lol.
Haha, of course I will accept it without any second thoughts.
This is not a dream anymore.
If you had read all the way down until this point, well-done. You have successfully read my crazy experience for my university entrance exam. I know the wait for ten days for the results to be announced was a really hard one; it was a real test for me emotionally. But if that is what it takes to pass it, I don't mind at all haha. So, from my experience, do you know what's the moral of the story?
Always play safe!


Wee Kien said...

Congrat!! otsukare!

I think as long as no other foreign students as competitor, then surely no problems of passing.

Haha... about the lie, only apply if other candidates are from other kousen as well.

Endoru said...

Haha, I guess I am quite tall also huh.
I guess I shall be waiting to read your next post. :)

calvin said...

@ wee kien:
thanks again. at least i can now enjoy the fruits of all the hard work i have poured in for the past two years.

i guess luck played a huge role in me passing this entrance exam and it so happened that i was the only international student in my course.

i hope my other classmate who went into the interview's room first didn't tell the interviewers anything that would make them know i was lying haha. but it's something in the past now that i have passed the exam and i can start to look forward to another new chapter of my journey in japan =D

calvin said...

@ endoru:
haha, hope you don't mind me leaving out you there. i was just not so sure whether or not you are the tallest in your batch, but i guess you are among the tallest, if not the tallest xD

i expect that entry to be a wordy and lengthy one and i will to do it once i manage to find some time because my reports are awaiting for me after i abandoned them for the past few weeks haha.

but yeah, i guess i will need some time to work on that entry.

p/s: thanks again for the simulation technique you taught me, although i applied it much earlier than what you did last time.

naqiubex said...

So that is how people get into university..

Were some of them really like robots.. I think i can imagine what are they like.. hahah

ps: Amazingly.. i read through everything.. which I usually don't do..

calvin said...

@ naqiubex:
yes, i guess even my family were not sure about the system before this.

yeah, only if i took the pictures inside the waiting room, but i guess it wouldn't be appropriate to do so.

i'm impressed that you are one of the few ones who bother to read through the whole entry. hehe, thanks =)

specialhuman said...

lol. say people nerd face. You not only used to be one, now also same :P

anyway, congrats for your admittance to Chiba! I hope you will be more Chiba-ish in the future :P

Anyway, I think they asked you those question, perhaps was just to see how would you respond even if you didn't know the answer :P

akatsukiotoko said...

Oh my GOD!!! That was great news!!! Omedetou!!!

The most impressive thing was your juken into Chiba-Dai. That was the most famous enginnering uni in Japan!!!

Reenybob said...

woohoo congrats! and ya, you better say 'chiba' super damn slow. or else everyone will send you bars of soap for your next birthday hahahah!

K3ViN said...

Congrat!!!! glad u did it.....

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
if i have a nerd face now, you are no difference either; in fact, much more nerd than me xD

haha, what chiba-ish? sounds so vulgar-lah lol =P

yea, i know. i think i was smiling all the way although i couldn't answer them to hide away my embarrassment and tried to look as calm as possible. maybe that helped a little bit =)

calvin said...

@ akatsukiotoko:
hehe, actually i wanted to try toukou-dai last time, but it was too demanding and i decided to take the easy route xD

regarding chiba-dai being the most famous engineering uni in japan, i beg to differ because there are other unis which have a much higher level in engineering field; one example being toukou-dai =)

calvin said...

@ reenybob:
you know what? i didn't get your last sentence until mich explain it to me. haha, super lame-lah you. never mind, i think the lameness runs in the blood xD

p/s: ah mah will surely send me her bars of soap which she always uses an axe to cop those long bars of soap into smaller pieces lol =P

calvin said...

@ k3vin:
thank you very much =)

ven said...


Btw, did you mentioned that there's 8 interviewees? All eight managed to get through it seemed.

kh said...

lousy la you ... nvr care for the environment still using plastic bags... thats why the crow can see what is inside.... dai sei ....

and its deadline... spelling...

lyk said...


calvin said...

@ ven:
thanks =)

yes, all eight interviewees who sat for the exam passed the interview. apparently, the uni wants to take more students this year, but it doesn't mean it was a stroll in the park for us.

calvin said...

@ kh:
haha, my bag was full already, okay. so, i had no choice but to use their plastic bags. that crow memang purposely wanted to disturb my vege one lah. have you seen crows eating vege? no, right?

okay, typo edited.

calvin said...

@ lyk:
yeah, although i didn't get to experience how it feels to study for the juken, at least what i went through during the interview was something which i will always remember =D

i had such thoughts too, but we all have confidence that you will pass toudai. all the best!

kh said...

anyway.. i want that cert in 2 years!!! AAAHH!!... actually less than 2 years... AAHH!!! .. pray for me..... make sure i study and dont lazy around!

calvin said...

@ kh:
you are not bad in photoshop, right? just change the name and course and you can print out your cert right now haha xD

stopping from talking gomi-banashi with me would be the first step you should take lol xD

sychin said...

Sorry for my late reply. I was having my experiment that time and I could only inform you only after 5. I am sure that the time while waiting the result really suffered.Anyway, congratulation !Welcome to Chiba

calvin said...

@ sychin:
yup, just like i thought so. hehe, it's alright. i know you surely must be up to something, some classes or lab experiments maybe. but i got your message later that evening xD

yeah, the one-hour wait was indeed a nervy one. korekara yoroshiku ne =)

Endoru said...

Haha, take your time. :)

calvin said...

@ endoru:
yes, i think i will xD

sheryl0202 said...

"I didn't practise with my friends here because seeing their face will surely make me laugh one. That's why I chose to practise with paper-face drawing instead lol."

I really burst out laughing SORRY but funny lah u! so serious about your interview..congrats again!!!

If i go Tokyo next year, Can I go visit u? haha

calvin said...

@ sheryl0202:
haha, don't worry. i have no problem with that. it's good that i managed to make you release some endorphins to kill off some of your stress xD

of course i have to be serious with my interview because it's like in between life and death for me lol. by the way, thanks =)

you wanna visit me? sure, if you don't mind the mess at my place haha =P